Three grandparents were able to visit on her birthday (Saturday birthdays are the best!), so we threw her a tiny on the fly party.
We served tomato soup with bread and chocolate cake!
Her grandparents all brought many gifts, and from Zack and I, she decided (after changing her mind three times) she wanted to go and see Frozen 2 in the theater, so she has three more days to wait. She is so excited!
Her first request was to take Grandma Penny and Grandma Shari out to eat at Taco Bell – where she would order a rice bowl. That’s all she wanted!! These girls smother us in so much cuteness.
We played game after game, and I do believe she got a proper amount of spoiling from everyone.
She still occasionally comes up to me and reminds me that she is now seven years old. Haha.
You are seven today! You have been so eager for this day, sometimes shaking with giddy anticipation. It reminded me, for the first time in a long time, of when you would shake (with the largest of smiles plastered on your face) at the thought of some incredible moment on the horizon. I am filled with such a comfort knowing, while you are older and more mature, you really haven’t grown far from younger you.
Something that has not changed is your commitment to your interests. When you like something, you really like something. You don’t flutter from one great thing to the next. You get to know everything you can about what you enjoy. Your first big love was Star Wars, which held strong from age three to age six. With six came an interest in Ninjago and art (particularly drawing), and even now you show no signs of moving on to new interests.
You love love love when I lie down on the floor and play Legos with you. You build and build for hours and though you love to have company you don’t require or even wait around for it. You are your own woman. Always have been. Hopefully always will be.
I have really been blessed with so many hours of one on one drawing, cooking, reading, and Lego time with you in the past few months. Time with you, hearing your thoughts, sharing mine, has been such a gift to me.
You love me and you show me nearly every minute of every day – whether with hugs, kisses, drawings, gifts, requests for me to join you in doing what you enjoy, or requesting to join me with what I enjoy. I am trying very hard to appreciate having you around every minute of every day. Which, is not hard, but what I wouldn’t give to freeze time and spend days with you, uninterrupted.
You are brilliant. You think of the most insightful things to say and, usually, stop to think before you speak. Knowledge seems to come easy for you. Maybe that is why I am so grateful you still have a resemblance to your younger self? Your big brain hasn’t stifled your sweet six seven-year-old nature.
Seven! I am excited to see how you change this year and how you stay the same. I am continually getting to know you – the real you underneath your circumstance.
Welp, I’m off to watch Ninjago with you for the umpteenth time before you head to bed tonight. Your first sleep as a seven-year-old!
I hope wherever life finds you now, you are happy, carefree, and maybe, if you have time, you could send me a new drawing for old time’s sake?
OCTOBER! The month of birth and of my firstborn. The month fall shows up and we bring out all the warm clothes and hearty food. Most of the bugs are already hibernating and the birds fill our porch to fill up on seed. It begins the final and most holiday filled months of the year. I love this time of year!!
The hens have begun to molt which means fewer eggs for us (which is fine!!) Rae had been requesting boiled eggs and as a way of marking them, she has been doodling on them. Although, if the eggs are in the fridge, they’re boiled, so they don’t really need to be marked, but doodles make it fun.
We spent the morning of the first chilly day at the park. We brought breakfast as well as tea in a thermos, Rae’s pumpkin (’cause, autumn), a vase of flowers, and candles. We read Jill Barklem‘s Autumn Story (Brambly Hedge) and a chapter from Elska (Horse Diaries series). Afterward, they explored, collected nature and marched around and around the large firepit.
Mae turned NINE this month!
For her ‘birthday experience’ she chose to get her ears pierced. We celebrated on the last weekend of September since we would be in the city (near a Claires). She chose ‘diamond’ studs to match the earrings she always picks out for me to wear so that we could match. I mean.Could she be any sweeter?????
The girls each carved a pumpkin early on in the month. We listened to the old radio drama version of Frankenstein while they did so. We also thought of ideas for Mae’s actual 9th birthday – Family video game time, no formal school, bake something, etc.
On Mae’s actual birthday, she requested pumpkin cinnamon rolls for breakfast and a bonfire with s’mores before bed. The moon was so bright; when they were done the girls ran around the yard in the moonlight dancing around the shadows of tree limbs.
She ended up with marshmallow in her hair. She just asked that I cut it out – which took out quite a large chunk of hair. She was so happy to hear that she may need a full hair cut that we chopped it off right then and there. She is thrilled with it and hasn’t had a single tangle since.
Rae is still delivering one hundred drawings to me daily. She always writes some version of, “Mom, I love you,” on each one.
This is definitely one of my faves. The ghost on a string, I have shopping bags for some reason, the heart knee patches and the intricate zipper, that sweet striped shirt with sleeves that are juuust a bit too short (cold wrists foreverrrr), that cool bob I wish I could pull off, that thick swipe of eyeliner, and that freckled smiley next to my face. Mmmmboy.
The hens have become mega chill now that it is cold outside. I still don’t trust Miss Maybe around them so they are stuck in their coop always, but we managed to coax her inside so Mae could hold a lady for a bit. Anyone remember our old flock following her around the yard like a mama hen? I miss that.
As well as a side bit about our Viking lessons here.
The girls cooked and baked and cooked and baked. (My favorite was the Barmbrack they made for my birthday!) The colder weather certainly makes us enjoy so much daily time in the kitchen – except for the cleanup part. Although, Mae did flash a smile up there while putting away clean dishes. Maybe the entire process is wonderful?? Must be.
My aunt sent me a text of an incredible cake she thought my girls and I would dig. Boy, did they!
They, of course, wanted to make their own and quickly chose a turtle. I kept all of the icing-less scraps for myself. I think we will try something with coconut fur next!
Zack was away for two weekends with friends and had friends over one evening and a few drop by on other evenings. That man needs as many brakes with friends as he can get to balance out his constant jobs and side jobs and home renovations.
We sure missed him while he was canoeing, camping, and hiking with friends. I tried to make it extra fun for the girls while he was gone. We almost had a movie night and some sort of fun meal – in the photo above, we grabbed Chinese food and they were so excited to go into the restaurant since they had never seen the inside. It doesn’t take much to make them happy!
I turned 32 this month!
We don’t typically give each other gifts, but Zack got me every episode of my favorite show! I’ve been waiting for years to get it. Rae drew this for me one day (always drawing!!) and I adore it. I have every episode memorized but I still chuckle constantly.
Back when we could go a day without rain, the girls enjoyed raking leaves. Not to jump in, they just like raking. They laughed and laughed so much. I am so thankful they are friends.
Miss Maybe got some extra love and plenty of scraps this month. She also spent more and more time outside exploring that usual. Getting into trouble, no doubt.
Fridays are a bit more lax for us. On this particular day, we headed up to the library after our morning time and thought it was so incredibly pretty in town that we must stay a bit longer.
We grabbed some warm beverages and donuts from a gas station, found a spot back by the library to park, and walked.
We walked until we came to the gazeebo by the tracks so they could enjoy their treat and wouldn’t you know, a train drove by just for them.
We took the long way back to the car. We named our favorite houses and admired everyone’s decorations, tried not to trip on the sidewalks/tried to catch those who did trip, and talked about anything and everything.
The girls are still trying to enjoy that pioneer life as best they can.
Have you read Ox-Cart Man? That would be Mae’s ideal life. Rae likes dressing the part and the cooking. In the photo above, they were enjoying some tea (water) and reading some pioneer type books.
Mae is very into Halloween. She enjoys thinking up a costume, wearing said costume out of doors, collecting candy, being in and walking around town, carving pumpkins, observing everyone’s decorations, the fall trees being in full color, any and all fun food that comes with the holiday…she likes it all.
We didn’t really celebrate Halloween when I was a kid. The last Halloween I remember I was possibly five-years-old? I was a black cat. I can’t imagine my parents ever celebrating it as kids. So once I had a child who was so enthusiastic about it, I decided to run with it and figure it out as we go.
This year, we decided to carve an extra round of pumpkins on Halloween. They also danced to fun Halloween music (they really like Thriller this year), watched Hotel Transylvania and the making of the Thriller video, and read books we grabbed ahead of time from the library. I gave them the day to themselves – no school, no chores.
Our first stop this year was to our wonderful neighbors! We usually make them our last stop, but it was SO cold this year, we went there first before the sun began to go down. They are always happy to see the girls and they give them the best goodie bag of treats -like popcorn and hot chocolate, pencils, and a couple of pieces of candy.
Zack was able to go trick-or-treating with us for the first time in years! It was so nice to have a buddy and for him to see them, old enough to walk to the door without us and hear their joy about it all as we walked.
We went to more homes this year – possibly because I had a buddy who could warm me up. Everyone was genuinely happy to see the kids come up and get candy. It was so nice to see.
Their costumes were perfect since they could bundle up as much as they needed to and it wouldn’t mess up their ‘look.’
Their pumpkins greeted us when we came home!
Once we were home they sat down and began to sort their candy and immediately began discussing their costume ideas for next year while I made a late supper.
Today we are taking down the Halloween decorations, giving the house a once over with the broom, and starting a new book!
We really hit our stride in October. Maybe I said that for September? I don’t know, but October felt so full and lazy all at the same time. My ideal blend of goings-on.
We learned a ridiculous amount about Vikings which took up most of our history and geography. Aside from that, we continued to focus on reading, grammar, and math as our core subjects.
Below is a bit more of the additional school-related things.
One big change we’re trying out is rotating days. I teach Mae Mondays and Wednesdays (Grammar, math, reading, writing, sewing, and whatever she adds to it.) and Rae on Tuesdays and Thursdays (Grammar, reading, math, drawing, and whatever she wants to add to it).
They also cook all the meals on their days (especially supper). We meet each day for lunch/tea time and work on Bible lessons, German, and our group read aloud – this month focused on mysteries such as Nancy Drew and Box Car Children.
Fridays, we are all together and accomplish our history, science, and anything else they want to do, like play board games, go for a walk or bake a new-to-us thing. We all cook breakfast and supper together on this day.
It has been so nice having an entire day one-on-one, and I can tell they enjoy a bit of scheduled time alone to work on what they want. Sewing, scrapbooking, crocheting, drawing, painting, Barbies and babydolls, PBS computer games, Legos, and archery have been some of the things they chose during this time. Mae also chose to watch folks make things on youtube. Primitive Technology and Evan and Katelyn are two of her favorites.
Mae read Sarah, Plain and Tall as one of her independent read alouds.
I always love my time listening to her read. I no longer have to chime in with help – unless the writer chooses a strange name – but she is someone who discusses the book all the way through. So many questions and comments come from her. It makes me happy to see what she finds funny.
As a kid, I loved watching the movie at my Vovo’s house, so as a surprise, I ordered the movie to give her when she completed the book. Watching it with her was just as fun! She really liked that most of their words were verbatim from the book. She’s so cool. She was most excited about the scene where they go swimming in the pond. It did not disappoint.
While the weather was still decent, we made a point to go on a few picnics a week. We may yet decide to hold some soup and cider picnics before the month is up but with so much rain and snow in the forecast, I may chicken out.
Rae has officially begun typing lessons along with her sister!
We use typing.com and they enjoy it…and enjoy seeing their progress…and having their own account they get to sign into. Ha.
This month Mae began writing. She has always had a desire to write stories (and tell stories). I decided to forgo the struggle of letting her work through her limited spelling vocabulary and now I type her narration and show her how to use Google docs and format a book, save it and print it so she can ease into doing it all solo.
I had her write a book a week. About two weeks in, we started up the fireplace – which meant we pulled out old newspapers for kindling. She typically saves the newspapers we receive and reads through them and does her best to memorize the weather for the week. One afternoon, she told me she wanted to write a newspaper and already had the day’s hourly weather written up (which she figured out independently). How could I say no? We drew it up in Photoshop and printed four copies, one for each of us (She gave a couple to Zack’s friends, too).
I have given her the job of creating one at the beginning of every month so we know what is going on and what we have to look forward to!
When she was done designing her newspaper, we began her first sewing lesson. She has done a lot of hand sewing and used the machine a ‘tweensy’ bit but she wants to be great at it. So! great she shall be. (And her legs are finally a good length!)
In the first photo, she is getting used to the speed by stitching rows and rows of straight lines while also turning the fabric to make the stitch continuous.
After she felt comfortable and was less mad with power (she makes everything in life hilarious), I helped her make the cutest bento bag for Rae’s American Girl doll.
She wants to open a small shop/sale (yard sale style). I told her if she works hard this winter she can have one with her homemade goods. She knows how to make scrunchies so she will be making a ton of those and bento bags (normal size) and hopefully many more things.
I can already tell that most of her winter schooling will consist of creating anything and everything her beautiful brain thinks up.
We became obsessed with checking in on the bears in Alaska via this live stream. We keep it up at all times and run to see them a few times each day. Sometimes the girls bring their copy work to the desk so they can watch them while they work.
We got back into nature journaling! I love drawing natural and true things (my imagination does not exist when it comes to fiction), so I am all for drawing animals, trees, flowers, shells, pinecones, etc…sometimes even people.
After reading and watching Sarah, Plain and Tall, the girls chose sea shells as our nature drawing subject. Rae really wanted me to take a photo of her drawing set up juuuusst right.
She is so detail-oriented when it comes to drawing. Zack and I are constantly in awe of the doodles she brings us.
I don’t have a photo of it, but her colorings of the shells were immaculate and even more detailed.
Mae doesn’t care for drawing or coloring, but she took the time to draw two angles for each shell!
She sighs at the thought of drawing and d r e a d s coloring.
However, she adores writing and Rae loathes it. Haha.
One week, for our composer and painting lesson, we held off until nighttime, ’cause it was somewhat of a spooky one. Some of you may have seen the videos of it in my Instagram stories.
We listened to Night on Bald (Bare) Mountain by Modest Mussorgsky over and over and over while we discussed Mussorgsky, came up with stories for the music, and at the very end of our talks I told them what it was really about – so I didn’t steer their stories.
For the assignment, we all chose a type of mountain and who was climbing up that mountain. Rae chose a pointed snowy mountain with skiers and Santa overhead. Mae chose a candy mountain with gingerbread men climbing up it. I chose a trash mountain with a raccoon climbing on it.
Elwood P. and Miss Maybe joined us, too.
It was kind of windy, so we used the propane lantern instead of candles. It kept us nice and warm, as did the girl’s hot chocolate.
We took many walks about town, but our favorite place was definitely the new addition to the already very long bike trail in town.
Mae happened to be sick on Rae’s day at one point. I got her a real nice set up back in the bedroom and thoroughly enjoyed my morning alone with Rae.
We did whatever she wanted to – worksheets, youtube stories, coloring, and Legos…with an episode of Adventure Time to accompany her breakfast. It was so nice hanging out with a six-year-old doing only six-year-old things.
Mae got back into the habit of e-mailing grandmas while she was sick.
We often found ourselves crocheting and knitting while watching cozy fall movies. Some of our favorites were Fly Away home, You’ve Got Mail, Little Women, and Harry Potter.
They also began to find joy in practicing cursive white listening to calm music (by candlelight, of course). They really like soundtracks – Little Women, Wall-E, Inside Out, The Hobbit, Pride and Prejudice, and Downton Abbey are a few favorites.
I have too many grand ideas when it comes to themed lessons. Thankfully, Zack also has a habit of dreaming big and graciously helps me with any and all ideas I wish to see through. Like this longhouse.
I had planned for the girls and me to make this at home, like all of our other clay projects, but this needed a mind that understood the ins and outs of how clay sets and the best techniques to use. I wanted this to be both purposeful and last a long time. I designed it to be a candle holder and I’m pretty sure it will look perfect on the school table come Christmas time.
Zack ended up doing ninety-nine point nine percent of the longhouse project. It was a bit too much for the kids on account’a hot glue and dedicate fake moss being the main necessities when it came to aesthetics.
It worked out though because Zack seemed to have fun making it (like, a lot of fun!). It’s not often he gets to create just for the joy of it anymore (although, technically, this was a request he completed for me).
We made leather shoes. (The tutorials are here and here)
Mae says they are “So comfy!” with or without socks.
We also did a ton of research on the internet and read bits from various history books we have around the house.
We may make this Kubb set and learn the game, but I didn’t get around to it before I fully exhausted myself with Viking biz. (Exhausted from enjoying so fully). It is also for sale on Amazon, but that’s kinda cheating and Mae would feel jipped out of a sweet whittling opportunity.
We also had planned on making cardboard helmets (without horns as they did not actually have horns on their helmets) but it wasn’t necessary and cardboard equals kindling during this time of year.
We’re going to take a slight history break and study Abraham again for a little bit. But then, in November we will begin relearning about kings, queens, and medieval times – as well as current monarchy situations around the world. But, I’ma drag those lessons out for a couple of months and pace myself…if I can.
Today you are nine. Nine! Boy that number suddenly sounds mighty big.
Not nearly as large as the “thirty-two” my mom will hear later this month, but to me, nine sounds major…and really fun!
Here are some things you are currently ‘into’ :
Irish music (their classic folk songs & The Cranberries)
History is still your favorite subject (mine too!). So much so, you have requested we cover some sort of history every day.
Your favorite historical figure is still Abraham Lincoln. You keep a rotation of biographies on Abe by your bed and read them most nights when you’re not quite as tired as Mom would like you to be. (Also, you have a favorite historical figure!)
You have really become interested in reading and we have started a book club for just the two of us. If we’ve dropped this habit, let’s pick it back up again, OK?
Halloween is coming up. I’ve never cared for the holiday. In fact his year I decided we were going to skip the hoopla all together. Your enthusiasm (and constant pleading) got me to change my mind and for the first time in my life, I am genuinely enjoying that part of fall and have even gone so far as to bring candy into the house. You’re very persuasive. (P.S. – I really like your costume choice this year!)
Full House. Good Gracious. You are SO VERY into Full House. You are currently emersed in the final season and will surely have completed the series in the next week or two. You’re deeply invested in each character’s fictional life. It’s adorable to witness. You have even inserted the phrase, “Duh” into your vocabulary. You use it well.
You still love to dance and are the best/funniest dancer. Geez, I really dig your humor.
You D R E A D brushing your hair. I usually don’t make you, but when I do, you take the news like a champ…I kid. You sigh quite loudly, then slowly drag your feet over to the bathroom and finish the dreadful task by chucking the brush and running out of the room while laughing maniacally. You’re a real treat.
You have become a terrific cook/baker over the past year. Last week you made the BEST pancakes I’ve ever had! You want to cook every meal every day. I’ll try and get better about letting you.
You adore all of your pets and can think of a handful of others you’d like to have. A bird (life long dream), a guinea pig, hedgehog. sheep, and the holy grail of pets – a horse! I hope you get your horse someday.
You are thoughtful. You are empathetic. You are generous. You are sensitive and easily discouraged. You are quick to hug. You are still always up for snuggles (the best!). You are a no-fuss kind of human and the first to smother others in compliments.
I miss you the moment you leave the room. I can’t imagine life without you.
I never tired of looking at you, holding you, hearing your voice – your laughter, feeling your hand in mine, or learning what’s on your mind.
Our newest cat has had more names than any other animal in the history of animals. S’more. Marshmallow. Toasted Marshmallow. Cinnamon. Pumpkin. Punkin. Weasley. Wonwon (Ron-Ron).
So, we chose a name, Elwood P. (to stick with our Jimmy Stewart theme) and it must stay. Soley for my sanity.
I wasn’t sure about keeping this cat around because it may cause my dearest George or our other cats to no longer be around. So far they still call our house their home. Elwood is not allowed in the house (he isn’t fixed), and maybe that helps. He is so so so lovey. He produces nonstop purrs and leg rubs and will let you pet and hold him forever.
He stays right beside us when we are outside so our other cats have stopped doing so. Big bummer as we love our cats hanging around us wherever we go. Just knowing a cat thinks you’re worthy of their attention is an incredible feeling. *It’s how Maybe (our dog) seems to feel when I give her undivided attention.
Thankfully Bailey and Katie still hang about indoors all day every day.
Cats are so great. Even with all of the new drama being drawn up because of Elwood, it’s nice having another cat to hang out with. Miss Maybe even seems to think so – but she enjoys the cat drama a bit too much. Haha.
The best part has to be the amount of time we have spent with Zack. He has been so busy this past year. He is carving out more and more time for home and we are so thrilled.
I’m not sure if I have written about it here, but over the summer, Rae brought back her pixie cut. She is so so happy about her fresh hair I think it should be documented.
The girls have become so at home in the kitchen! This semester we are having them each cook full meals solo! Depending on the meal I will hover, but they are getting to know recipes and techniques so quickly.
Zack had to drive three hours south to pick up clay for work. We took the opportunity to take the girls to Springfield – where Mae was born. We haven’t been in two or three years.
I believe it was my favorite visit to the town. Maybe because our girls were old enough to enjoy it?
Some of our favorite places were no longer there but we still managed to feel overwhelmed with nostalgia!
The girls were able to spend time with other kids last weekend at a friend’s birthday party. They are still talking about it. I think I need to get some friends together on a regular basis.
The girls have a ‘required’ hour of daily independent reading. As a result, they are always reading. I especially adore when Mae shows up to read to me while I cook, clean, or drive to the grocery store.
Amelia usually comes up and asks me to stop whatever I am up to and go snuggle somewhere while she reads to me.
I am loving this season of mothering.
I wrote two posts about our schooling back here and here – but I believe the reading and cooking should be included! This is going to be such a monumental year where their (and my) growth is concerned, I can tell…
We already spend quite a bit outside, but this year we are attempting to be outside for several hours a day together, no matter the weather. At the very least, half an hour on the coldest of days.
We began the official ‘everyday’ goal in September but got out and about plenty in August.
We have been enjoying walks/bike rides along various bike trails here in town.
This, I believe will be what out outdoor time involves on the rainy and snowy days.
We also go up to our favorite park a couple times a week. We often have a picnic lunch at the lookout spot or under a tree by the water. Afterward, we spend about an hour walking around the spring and the river. It stays cool by the water, but not so much at the playground. So, if it is not too hot, they will spend the last hour swinging and sliding and making up new games.
We spent three entire days swimming in the river. Some days got really hot, so we took advantage of having the place to ourselves, save a couple of other homeschooling families on one of the days.
Another one of our favorite spots for wandering, reading, and painting has been the lake in town.
So many cool critters – and it is another cool spot on a hot day!
There were many other breakfasts, lunches, and evening spent outside left unphotographed. Our time outside and freedom to go where we want, when we want has made all the difference in our moods. I hope we can keep it up!
These past two months have been SO incredible, especially in regards to our schooling. I have been enjoying this year (the first two months of it) more than any other time in our homeschooling past, which gives me so much hope for every year beyond this one.
Not that they are accomplishing any more or less than before. We have found a good rhythm, and we are enjoying being together – and somehow have avoided becoming overwhelmed (by design).
The results of drawing with Momma’s notsogreat vision were adorable and made her laugh so hard she couldn’t breathe.
We started the school year with Zack teaching (as he learned along side her) how to build a motherboard. She was in her element. She’ll take any excuse to take something apart and put something together. She’s a tinker like her daddy.
Poetry is still their favorite copy work. We haven’t had any biographies yet, but they will in October.
We spent a full month (or more?) studying Greece. They did a lot of art studies, crafts, larger-scale projects – like the Parthenon, above – they studied how the Greeks began as a nation as well as how their discoveries have helped us today. We read about some of their myths, gods, about the Odyssey, Illiad, Troy, and Alexander the Great.
Here are some of the short videos they watched to tied certain lessons together:
We enjoyed reading several books, including The Horse and His Boy as we continue weaving the Narnia series among our other read alouds. While that is one of my top three Narnia books, we didn’t do a large project to go with it as we did with previous books.
The girls each picked a skill they want to focus on daily (Monday through Friday).
Mae picked archery and Rae picked drawing techniques. Right now, Mae practices an hour a day and Rae is working with me on drawing faces. We have done the face as a whole and are now focusing on the eyes.
Rae has really increased her interest in Legos over the past couple of months. You’ll often find her building as we do lessons that only require listening and verbal narration.
We have always done some form of art every day, but this year we have begun studying famous artists and their work as well as How to Study Art.
We have been posing for portraits and taking ourselves out into the world for landscapes.
On this particular day, we go to witness a bald eagle fly overhead, swoop down, catch a fish and observed it as it landed and ate the fish! Amelia even included the bird in her painting (you can see it there in the final image.).
The girls also went on two field trips – one with Mom to the zoo and one with Mom AND Dad to see a play and we took them out to lunch.